About 3 weeks ago, I felt a small lump in my right breast, right where the cancerous one had been removed 2 years ago. I got an appointment with my GP for July 13 and spent a nasty weekend prior to that, thinking dark thoughts. After she felt the lump, she referred me to the clinic at the Civic where I had my first ultrasound in July of 2008, when they found the cancer. I could only get an ultrasound appointment for this morning at 8 am.
Peter was planning to take holidays starting July 16 and he was going to bike around Lake Ontario or somewhere, while I campaigned. This lump put us both in limbo. He started his holidays anyway, so he could just hang out with me and be supportive, and we had a very quiet weekend, where we got in some nice biking and spent a lot of time on patios, thinking our own dark thoughts.
I have been thinking about the meaning of life. I have also been thinking about whether my body had betrayed me (again), what kind of surgery I would have this time and whether I would opt for chemo (again). I have been planning final trips and holidays in my head, thinking about cashing in my life insurance and RRSPs to do so, and other similarly grim thoughts.
This morning, we were up at 6 and out the door at 7, to bike over to the Civic. We got there in 35 minutes, so we were a tad early. My heart rate was up and I felt quite gloomy. When I was ushered in to the exam room, I asked if Peter could come with me, so I wouldn't have to tell him everything after it happened and so re-live a potentially negative experience. They said he couldn't come in with me. I shrugged. First a technician gave me the ultrasound and I watched the monitor while she ran the wand over me. I could see a dark lump on the screen but it looked different from the one 2 years ago. Then a very nice woman doctor (sweetly named Dr. Petal) came in and talked to me while she ran the wand over me. She pointed out the characteristics of this lump and told me that to her, it looked like it was a fat necrosis, or dead fat cells in a lump. In other words, scar tissue. It was still evolving, the scar tissue, because of the damage done by surgery and radiation and the fact that the fat lump wasn't getting any blood supply.
In fact, this is a key thing that distinguishes cancer from other tissue - it has a vigorous blood supply. And this lump had none. I let out my breath that I'd been holding for the last few weeks. She then asked the technician to go get Peter. They don't like other people in the room initially, because it is a small room and they can be distracting. But now that the work had been done, she allowed Peter in. He was relieved to hear what she had to say and she showed him what she was looking at on the monitor. She also said that she had looked at my file from 2 years ago, as well as the mammogram I had in November. She could see the lump on the mammogram (and she got out the film and showed it to me) and pointed out that it looked like scar tissue there also.
Nevertheless, to be entirely sure, I am going to have a needle biopsy, some time in the next 2 weeks. It will be one of those rare occasions when I willingly say to someone, "yes, please do stick a large needle into my chest and pull out tissue." However, I agree with her that it is probably just scar tissue and therefore, I can write this and get back to living. And running for office. And sewing. I've been a little distracted lately.